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I'm considering getting (back) into Magic. My son is 12 now and he loves tabletop games. I remember playing Magic in my college years and while my grades suffered, I had a blast. I'm not looking to get into competition play. Just fun with the family and friends. I basically have 3, hopefully, simple questions:

  • Does it matter what block you start with when starting from scratch?
  • If the answer to the above question is yes, then which blocks should I pick up a couple of starter decks for?
  • Do all blocks work together or do you have to build block based decks?
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I think by series you probably mean "block" (in Magic terminology)... –  thesunneversets Mar 4 '13 at 21:50
    
I am reminded of a related question: boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/4399/… –  ghoppe Mar 4 '13 at 23:04
    
My recommendation is that you buy the intro packs. As they contain a ready to play deck. Not only that it have a theme, it also have some booster packs for the fun part. –  wesdfgfgd Mar 5 '13 at 19:48

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Unlesss you're playing in some sort of tournament, It doesn't matter what cards you use.

The most popular tournament format is Standard, and the legal cards for that are all the cards from the past 5 to 7 sets.(4 sets rotate out every October)

Standard legal sets include: Innistrad, Dark Ascention, Avacyn Restored, M13, Return to Ravnica, and Gatecrash.

Generally your local store will be selling these standard-legal sets.


Other notable tournament formats include

Modern: which is cards printed in a major set since 8th edition.

Legacy: which has no time limit on cards, but there is a list of banned cards

Vintage: which has no time limit, and has a restricted list(you can only use 1 of the card). the only cards banned in Vintage are cards that deal with Ante and Shaharazad.

You can learn about other sanctioned formats here.


If you're just looking to play around with each-other casually, than it would be fine, to buy whatever starter decks your store happens to be selling and play them against each-other.

If you're looking to play a little more competitively, the Event decks are designed to be fairly powerful, and able to win a few games at low-level tournaments such as FNM(Friday Night Magic) events. (your local store might have such events. you should ask)


your store might also have duel decks. These are 2 decks designed to be played against each-other. Not all the cards in these decks are Standard Legal

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Thanks, Sam. That helps. –  Gregg Mar 4 '13 at 21:55
2  
Also, in the specific context of introducing a 12 year old to the game, the "core set" i.e., M13, is intentionally made up of cards with fewer complicated rules and interactions to understand. –  Affe Mar 4 '13 at 21:59
    
I ended up buying a Gatecrash intro pack and a Return to Ravnica intro pack. –  Gregg Mar 5 '13 at 2:30

Wizards has provided a route for the new/casual player that's an introductory middle ground between buying enough booster packs to make a deck and buying a full-fledged tuned deck.

They're called Booster Battle Packs with a MSRP of $9.99. They come with two 20-card semi-randomized decks, two 15-card booster packs, a learn to play guide and rules insert.

All the latest expansions have Battle Packs to get a taste of MtG play and deck building.

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Generally, it doesn't matter what series you start with. The accessibility of cards is probably going to be the biggest driving force. Newer cards are going to be easier to find since you can get them at most big box stores as both individual packs and groups of packs (e.g.: fat packs).

If you were going to get started, finding a couple of packs from one of the core sets, like M13, would provided the easiest entrance since it features simpler mechanics and generally prints out what each mechanic means. In some of the block sets, you get into more complex game play which requires more knowledge of stack rules and such. This is great to know, but it is probably easier to start with a core set. You may even be able to find pre-built decks in each of the colors for a core set, which would give you a decent idea about the strengths and weaknesses of each color. For a little while, local cardshops were handing out free 40-card decks in each color from M13 to try and get new players into the game. It may be worth calling your local cardshop to see if they happen to have any more.

All blocks do work together, but some are more synergistic than others. Red cards will always work with red cards, but you may be looking at different types of play depending on the block. As an older example, you wouldn't want to try and mix too many snow-covered type cards with sets that don't utilize effects of snow-covered. But for the most part, you'll be able to use cards from every set while making decks.

Edit:

I also would focus on trying to find pre-constructed decks before buying packs. Deck building is a rich and satisfying part of playing Magic, but it would be better to learn the flow of the game before trying to create decks that fit that flow. But knowing the basics provided by core sets is probably still more important than throwing extra mechanics in from block sets. My Order of Buying for Starters Priority (OBSP, trademark pending):

  1. Core Preconstructed Decks, like M13 and M12
  2. Core Individual Packs
  3. Block Preconstructed Decks, e.g.: Return to Ravnica or Avacyn Restored
  4. Block Individual Packs

Additional, long after the fact edit:

Every once in a while, WoTC releases Duel Decks. These are another good way to get more decks. For $20, the package includes two fully function 60-card themed decks. Each generally focuses on one mechanic, helping to ease you into more options.

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Thanks Matt. I appreciate the feedback. –  Gregg Mar 4 '13 at 22:05
    
@Gregg Per my most recent edit, the Sorin vs. Tibalt Duel Deck is set to be released on March 15, 2013. You should be able to get this from your local card shop or big box store. These are pretty decent deals for what you get, and the decks are usually fun to play. –  SocioMatt Mar 14 '13 at 19:54

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